It was a much happier pregnancy. He was everything my Husband had not been. He would jump to run get whatever I was craving. He rubbed lotion on my tummy and talked to the life growing inside me. When I did the dishes, it was not unusual for him to snuggle up behind me, and put his hands around my belly. He said he was taking his turn holding the baby. We were happy. As long as I carefully edited out any warning signs, ignored how close to the cliff I was getting. I just went with the flow. The phone rang one morning when I was alone. My daughter went to preschool and I used the time to rest. The woman on the other end of the phone sounded happy to hear my voice. She was chatty, upbeat. Said she was my Stepmother. I was silent, panicked...was my phone number listed? Did they know where I lived? I wanted to hang up, to get my child right then, to move as far from that voice as was humanly possible. I listened to her. I had step siblings and half siblings. My Father had wanted to name their daughter after me. Did she know what she was saying? Was this some kind of sick joke? My head was spinning and my heart was beating so fast. It was hard to concentrate on her words. She wanted to keep in touch. My father missed me and talked of me often. They wanted pictures. He had all these old ones of me and they had them framed and put up on the TV. I remember sliding down the wall, sitting there on the floor. Listening. That was all I could do. Listen to the that voice of doom. That intruder. She was a thief. Stealing my peace of mind, my sense of well being, and she did it with a joyous heart. I don't remember how I got off the phone, I couldn't stand to hear her any more. I called a family member, we talked it over. Tried to make sense of this stranger's words and what they meant to our lives. In the end, we let it drop. But it haunted me. The thought of another little girl, taking my place in my Father's nightmare haunted me.
I pondered it, what was he doing...did his wife know about his past? Had my mother been right, was it was my fault? Had I make him do the things he did? I didn't know what to do or even what I could do. I prayed and I thought. Time went by. I finally wrote her a letter, this new version of my own mother. I laid it all out. I wasn't mean or harsh, just very honest. It was hard to do. To write those words. I needed her to believe me. I needed her to understand how important it was. She remained silent.
My son was early. It was still a happy time. I lost myself in this new family. We laughed and played and snuggled together. I almost never thought of that other child. The one who was left behind in the carnage. I tried to convince myself that she had a better mother, one who cared and was vigilant. I had done what I could do. I had warned her. But it nagged me. It nagged me a lot.
Nine months after my son was born, I began to feel sickly. No energy, nauseous, tired all the time. I didn't expect it. I was devastated. How could this be? Really, I should have known. I remembered it all. That was a close as I would ever come to knowing how my Mother saw her children, as shackles.
I loved the two I had. I lived for them. But one more? We couldn't provide for two, how would we provide for three? This was where my worries lay. With my family's future. I had forgotten about that child's life.
So you see, thoughts of that little girl, clear across the country became a shadow. A distant echo. Barely heard and then forgotten. But not for long. There was a cannon waiting. A powder keg and I, would light that fuse.